Marketing involves a number of activities. To begin with, an organisation may decide on its target group of customers to be served. Once the target group is decided, the product is to be placed in the market by providing the appropriate product, price, distribution and promotional efforts. These are to be combined or mixed in an appropriate proportion so as to achieve the marketing goal. Such mix of product, price, distribution and promotional efforts is known as ‘Marketing Mix’.
So, Marketing Mix consists of 4Ps They are :-
- Place (distribution) and
These 4 ‘P’s are called as elements of marketing and together they constitute the marketing mix. All these are inter-related because a decision in one area affects decisions in other areas.
Product refers to the goods and services offered by the organisation. A pair of shoes, a plate of dahi-vada, a lipstick, all are products. All these are purchased because they satisfy one or more of our needs. The term product is defined as “anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want”. It normally includes physical objects and services. So, in simple words, product can be described as a bundle of benefits which a marketer offers to the consumer for a price.
Product can be broadly classified on the basis of
(1) USE, (2) DURABILITY, and (3)TANGIBLITY
- Based onUSE, the product can be classified as:
(a) Consumer Goods and
(b) Industrial Goods.
- Consumer goods: Goods meant for personal consumption by the households or ultimate consumers are called consumer goods. This includes items like toiletries, groceries, clothes etc. Based on consumers’ buying behaviour the consumer goods can be further classified as :
(i) Convenience Goods; (ii) Shopping Goods; and (iii) Speciality Goods.
- Convenience Goods :
The convenience goods are bought frequently without much planning or shopping effort and are also consumed quickly. Buying decision in case of these goods does not involve much pre-planning. Such goods are usually sold at convenient retail outlets.
- Shopping Goods:
These are goods which are purchased less frequently and are used very slowly like clothes, shoes, household appliances. In case of these goods, consumers make choice of a product considering its suitability, price, style, quality and products of competitors and substitutes, if any. In other words, the consumers usually spend a considerable amount of time and effort to finalise their purchase decision as they lack complete information prior to their shopping trip. shopping goods involve much more expenses than convenience goods.
- Speciality Goods :
As some special characteristics of certain categories of goods, people generally put special efforts to buy them. They are ready to buy these goods at prices at which they are offered and also put in extra time to locate the seller to make the purchase. Examples of speciality goods are cameras, TV sets, new automobiles etc.
(b) Industrial Goods: Goods meant for consumption or use as inputs in production of other products or provision of some service is termed as ‘industrial goods’. These are meant for non-personal and commercial use and include (i) raw materials, (ii) machinery, (iii) components, and (iv) operating supplies (such as lubricants, stationery etc). The buyers of industrial goods are supposed to be knowledgeable, cost conscious and rational in their purchase and therefore, the marketers follow different pricing, distribution and promotional strategies for their sale.
- Based on DURABILITY , the products can be classified as :
(a) Durable Goods and
(b) Non-durable Goods
- Durable Goods : Durable goods are products which are used for a long period i.e., for months or years together. Examples of such goods are refrigerator, car, washing machine etc. In case of these goods, seller’s reputation and presale and after-sale service are important determinants of purchase decision.
- Non-durable Goods: Non-durable goods are products that are normally consumed in one go or last for a few uses. Examples of such products are soap, salt, pickles, sauce etc. These items are consumed quickly and we purchase these goods more often. Such items are generally made available by the producer through large number of convenient retail outlets. Profit margins on such items are usually kept low.
- Based on TANGIBLITY , the products can be classified as:
(a) Tangible Goods and
(b) Intangible Goods.
- Tangible Goods : Most goods, whether these are consumer goods or industrial goods and whether these are durable or non-durable, fall in this category as they have a physical form, that can be touched and seen. Thus, all items like groceries, cars, raw-materials, machinery etc. fall in the category of tangible goods.
- Intangible Goods : Intangible goods refer to services provided to the individual consumers or to the organisational buyers (industrial, commercial, institutional, government etc.). Services are essentially intangible activities which provide want or need satisfaction. Medical treatment, postal, banking and insurance services etc., all fall in this category.
It is the exchange value of goods and services in terms of money. Pricing (determination of price to be charged) is another important element of marketing mix and It plays a crucial role in the success of a product in the market.
It has to be fixed after taking various aspects into consideration. The factors usually taken into account while determining the price of a product can be broadly described as follows:
- Cost: No business can survive unless it covers its cost of production and distribution. In large number of products, the retail prices are determined by adding a reasonable profit margin to the cost. Higher the cost, higher is likely to be the price, lower the cost lower the price.
- Demand: Demand also affects the price in a big way. When there is limited supply of a product and the demand is high, people buy even if high prices are charged by the producer. The price is dependent upon prospective buyers’ capacity and willingness to pay and their preference for the product. In this context, price elasticity, i.e. responsiveness of demand to changes in price should also be kept in view.
- Competition: The price charged by the competitor for similar product is an important determinant of price. A marketer would not like to charge a price higher than the competitor for fear of losing customers.
- Marketing Objectives: A firm may have different marketing objectives such as maximisation of profit, maximisation of sales, bigger market share, survival in the market and so on. The prices have to be determined accordingly.
- Government Regulation: Prices of some essential products are regulated by the government under the Essential Commodities Act. For example, prior to liberalisation of the economy, cement and steel prices were decided by the government. Hence, it is essential that the existing statutory limits, if any, are also kept in view while determining the prices of products by the producers.
METHODS OF PRICE FIXATION
Methods of fixing the price can be broadly divided into the following categories-
- Cost based pricing
- Competition based pricing
- Demand based pricing
- Objective based pricing
- Cost Based Pricing: Under this method, price of the product is fixed by adding the amount of desired profit margin to the cost of the product. While calculating the price in this way, all costs (variable as well as fixed) incurred in manufacturing the product are taken into consideration.
- Competition Based Pricing: In case of products where market is highly competitive and there is negligible difference in quality of competing brands, price is usually fixed closer to the price of the competing brands. It is called ‘young rate pricing’ and is a very convenient method because the marketers do not have to worry much about demand and cost and effect the change as per the changes by the industry leaders.
- Demand Based Pricing: At times, prices are determined by the demand for the product. Under this method, without paying much attention to cost and competitor’s prices, the marketers try to ascertain the demand for the product. If the demand is high they decide to take advantage and fix a high price. If the demand is low, they fix low prices for their product
- Objective Based Pricing: This method is applicable to introduction of new (innovative) products. If, at the introductory stage of the products, the organisation wishes to penetrate the market i.e., to capture large parts of the market and discourage the prospective competitors to enter into the fray, it fixes a low price. Alternatively, the organisation may decide to skim the market i.e., to earn high profit by taking advantage of a group of customers who give more importance to their status or distinction and are willing to pay even a higher price for it. In such a situation they fix quite high price at the introductory stage of their product and market it to only those customers who can afford it.
A distribution channel consists of the set of people and firms involved in the transfer of title to a product as the product moves from producer to ultimate consumer or business user. Basically it refers to the vital links connecting the manufacturers and producers and the ultimate consumers/users. It includes both the producer and the end user and also the middlemen/agents engaged in the process of transfer of title of goods.
TYPES OF CHANNELS OF DISTRIBUTION
- Zero stage channel of distribution
Manufacturer —-> Consumer
Zero stage distribution channel exists where there is direct sale of goods by the producer to the consumer. This direct contact with the consumer can be made through door-todoor salesmen, own retail outlets or even through direct mail.
- One stage channel of distribution
This type of distribution channel is preferred by manufacturers of consumer durables like refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, etc. where individual purchase involves large amount.
- Two stage channel of distribution
This is the most commonly used channel of distribution for the sale of consumer goods. In this case, there are two middlemen used, namely, wholesaler and retailer. This is applicable to products where markets are spread over a large area, value of individual purchase is small and the frequency of purchase is high.
- Three stage channel of distribution
When the number of wholesalers used is large and they are scattered throughout the country, the manufacturers often use the services of mercantile agents who act as a link between the producer and the wholesaler. They are also known as distributor.
Promotion refers to the process of informing and persuading the consumers to buy certain product. By using this process, the marketers convey persuasive message and information to its potential customers.
It is thus a persuasive communication and also serves as a reminder. A firm uses different tools for its promotional activities which are as follows:
– Personal selling
– Sales promotion
These are also termed as four elements of a promotion mix.
- Advertising: Advertising is the most commonly used tool for informing the present and prospective consumers about the product, its quality, features, availability, etc. It is a paid form of non-personal communication through different media about a product, idea, a service or an organisation by an identified sponsor. It can be done through print media like newspaper, magazines, billboards, electronic media like radio, television etc. It is a very flexible and comparatively low cost tool of promotion.
- Publicity: This is a non-paid process of generating wide range of communication to contribute a favourable attitude towards the product and the organisation. As the articles in newspapers about an organisation, its products and policies. The other tools of publicity are press conference, publication and news in the electronic media etc. It is published or broadcasted without charging any money from the firm. Marketers often spend a lot of time and effort in getting news items placed in the media for creation of a favourable image of the company and its products.
- Personal selling: It is a direct presentation of the product to the consumers or prospective buyers. It refers to the use of salespersons to persuade the buyers to act favourably and buy the product. It is most effective promotional tool in case of industrial goods.
- Sales promotion: This refers to short-term and temporary incentives to purchase or induce trials of new goods. The tool includes contests, games, gifts, trade shows, Discounts, etc. Sales promotional activities are often carried out at retail levels.